Thursday, September 30, 2010

"Angles In The Sun"

Angles In The Sun-IMG_5151 "Angles In The Sun"

©David A. Ziser

Here is another one of my Las Vegas abstracts made during a stroll though City Center earlier this month while attending Photoshop World. This image is jammed packed with competing contrasts. Just look at the warm tones competing with the cool blues. I love how the diagonal lines compete with the curves.

Throw in the the smooth surfaces and textures of the architecture - all the small windows panes in the building in the distance and the sun peaking out from above and I think I've captured a very interesting image. A tweak or two in Lightroom enhanced the final result.

Camera specs: Canon 7 D fitted with a Sigma 8-16mm lens at 8mm, F11 @ 1/200 second, ISO 100. Enjoy! -David

Business Day Thursday: Time To Start Thinking About The Christmas Rush! and FREE Webcast Announced!

Good Afternoon Everybody,

Yes, another afternoon post - when I looked up from a project I was working on yesterday, I noticed it was 3pm and I still hadn't posted yesterday's blog. Whoops. Heck, I do better when we are on the road ;~) Anyway, I'll plan to get back on schedule next week.

Hey gang, I've got some BIG news for you today. I'm announcing a brand new FREE webcast coming your way on October 27, 2010. It's entitled "Rocket Speed Digital Design" [link] and it's going to feature my favorite software LumaPix::FotoFusion. You can pick up all the details in the following post and register right here.

Digital Design Webcast  Horo Logo 350px

Also, later today, I'm scheduled to do a podcast with my blogging buddy, Kerry Garrison of fame. Kerry runs a great site - diverse content, lots of podcasts, and gear reviews, just to name a few of his topics. You can check out right here. I'll keep you posted as to when my podcast runs.

As usual, it's busy around the studio, but like they say, that's a good thing. Why don't we get on with today's post. Here we go...

Time To Start Thinking About The Christmas Rush!

Christmas Ornaments LR - Fotolia_5078594_Subscription_XL This is also the time of the year that "Christmas Rush" starts to kick in for us. Yes, I said Christmas rush. So how many weeks are there till Christmas?  We still have about 13 weeks until the big celebration. So, you ask, why am I worrying about Christmas rush?

I'm not suggesting you worry about Christmas rush, I'm suggesting you PLAN for it and this is the time of year to do just that. Between now and Christmas we have our current orders in process, just shot weddings to edit and post on-line, fall weddings to shoot, and the fall family portraits as the leaves turn their beautiful fall colors.

And when do all these folks want their photographs? You guessed it, by Christmas. That makes these last 12 weeks before Christmas the busiest of the year. I know what you're thinking, "what's the big deal, sounds like the money will be flowing in right?"

Yes, that is true, but here's the rub. As we gear up for the super busy time of the year, many photographers lose site of just how much is on their plate and have their backs up against the wall to get orders delivered by Christmas as they get closer to December 24. More importantly, something else suffers, too. It's that special time you want to spend with your family and friends during that celebration time of the year.

Frazzled But every busy studio that goes through it, HATES it, and SWEARS they will never let it happen again.

We were the same years ago. It was INSANE right up to Christmas Eve with me running all over town delivering client orders up to 7 or 8 p.m. A lot of photographers sacrifice the season for themselves and their families just to survive the Christmas rush.

I remember years ago being with several friends attending the performance of the Nutcracker Ballet and just sitting there NOT enjoying one bit of it and I stressed about getting all the studio work out in the next few days. Why was I wasting my time at a Ballet? I remember that moment so clearly and VOWED that it would never happen again!!!

Thankfully, we put a stop to the craziness years ago by establishing much earlier order cut off points just to be sure we could get everything delivered in plenty of time for Christmas and still enjoy the holiday ourselves and our families.

That's why October is the month when we begin thinking about the Christmas rush. Here is my tried and true plan for beating the Christmas rush at my studio.

Please hit the “Read More…” below for the rest of the story.

Don't Let The Holiday Rush Beat You Down

1- Look at your "work in progress" right now and begin planning your production timeline in order that all these orders will proceed through your production process smoothly. You don't want an order to drop through the cracks and become a "wrench in the works" for your upcoming holiday orders.

2- Establish cut off points for when album orders can be placed. Our cut off point has historically been the first week of October. That means the client to have their final choices made for the images they selected for their albums. That gave us plenty of time and a little room to spare so that we could guarantee their albums for Christmas.

DAZNOTE: Remember, the album companies get super busy that time of year too and will post their own deadlines for ordering. You need to meet or beat their deadlines to avoid costly rush charges.

3- For clients that miss your Christmas cutoff for albums, assure them that they will still receive all their extra print orders in time for the holidays. Most will have absolutely no objection about that.

4- Family portraits taken over these next few months should not be any problem at all in making Christmas delivery. Our cut off is December 1st. We will still book and shoot sessions right up to Christmas Eve if need be, but delivered prints will be on a per case basis based on clients needs and our product schedule.

DAZNOTE: Don't get me wrong. We bend over backward for our clients. If somebody needs something for the holidays, we will definitely make it happen. But remember, not every client needs photographs or albums for the holidays and is happy with a January delivery. It's these clients we want to identify - they are our holiday rush "stress relievers".

5- A client still wants a family portrait for the holiday and you are out of time to book it and shoot it? No problem, offer them a Family Portrait Gift certificate. That way they still are able to give the gift of photography for the holidays.

6- Delivery day madness can be a BIG issue. Most of our clients take delivery of their photographs in our studio. But with the hassle and the hustle of the holiday rush, we switch to plan B. We hire a part time person to make personal delivery of our albums and prints to our clients. In 8 hours you can get quite a few orders delivered at a cost much less than UPS or FEDEX. And, the client enjoys the personal contact as well.

DAZNOTE: Our part timer only works a few days right at the peak of our delivery schedule but it does relieve our client from making the trip to our studio and frees us up to get the rest of the orders delivered on time.

7- And just what is "on time" for us? This is the BIGGIE folks. We want all orders and albums delivered 7-10 days before Christmas! Why, so we can enjoy the holidays with our family and friends too.

Does it work? Absolutely, positively! We've been doing it that way for over 20 years and it has made the holidays exciting, fun, joyful, and peaceful again. I wish you the best for your upcoming holiday season.


Hey gang, that's it for me today. I can't believe we are nearly at the end of the week again. It has just flown by. We'll start packing the bags for the next leg of our CBTL tour this weekend and head to Nashville on Monday. Our numbers are looking good for next week so we hope to see you there.

Have a good rest of the day and I'll see you tomorrow for a brand new Friday gear post, "Flash Power Demystified".

See ya' then, David

FREE WEBCAST ANNOUNCED: Rocket Speed Digital Design With LumaPix: Fotofusion Wednesday October 27, 2010

FREE WEBCAST ANNOUNCED: Rocket Speed Digital Design With LumaPix: Fotofusion Wednesday October 27, 2010

Rocket Speed Webcast

This is one webcast you won't want to miss! Mark your calendar for Wednesday, October 27, 2010 from 3:00 to 5:00 p.m. EDT.

Click the image or secure link HERE to register. Maximum capacity is 1,000  so register early to guarantee your seat.

Earlier this year I held two webcasts featuring Lumapix - over 10,000 photographers and digital designers from around the world saw the program!

This time I'm changing up the presentation to show the latest features and the fastest LumaPix design techniques that will surely change your digital design lives.

Register Now LR I'll also show you how you can save $200 off the normal $299 selling price. That's right, I'll show you how to get LumaPix for only $99!!!  Will it work on a Mac??  It just might, you'll have to tune in and see.

If you've lived on a desert island for the last six years, you may not know that LumaPix:Fotofusion is the fastest collage/digital design software on the planet earth.  It blows Photoshop and InDesign away with its speed and ease of use.

I can "auto collage" a 20 image design in approximately 1 second with LumaPix.  I can do an entire album in 3 seconds. Yes, its speed is that unbelievable! A simple one page project takes no time at all.  And, the cool thing is, once you design a project you can easily save it out as a template and use it over and over.

Plan on stopping by and watching the program "Live" on Wednesday, October 27, 2010 from 3:00 - 5:00 p.m. EDT. I promise you an eye-popping, jaw-dropping presentation. And, I'll even save you $200!

Hope to see you there, David

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

"Love Among The Ruins"

Love Among The Ruins-0795_DZ-Walker W10

"Love Among The Ruins"

©David A. Ziser

Here is another image I made during my pre-wedding session a few weeks ago. In addition to the great images we took of the bride, the families, and wedding party at her home and park, the bride really wanted to break away and get some images in the urban setting of the city.

We headed into the city to some of my favorite alley ways and parking lots. This image was made in one of the parking lots we visited. I liked the fact that the time of day had the bright rays of the sun blocked by this building. That gave us the soft, forgiving shade to work in.

It was a pretty simple image to set up. I positioned the bride and groom between old windows, placing them at "nodal point" #1 in the scene, or the bottom left corner of the image. Look at the nice balance within the image.

Drawing an imaginary line from the window at the left, then to the couple, then to the window on the far right and back again creates a triangular visual path through the image with the couple at the bottom of the triangle thus keeping the viewer's eye constantly returning to the bride and groom.

Lighting was the available light that was present in the scene. At first glance the shot was OK, but I wanted to add a bit more grittiness to the feel of the image. That meant a trip over to Lightroom 3.

A tweak of the Clarity, Vibrancy, Contrast, Saturation, and Sharpness sliders got me close to the finished result. I used the Lens Adjustment sliders to straighten up the vertical lines and that was it - Love Among The Ruins.

Camera specs; Canon 7D fitted with 10-22mm lens at 12mm, F5.6 @ 1/60 second, ISO 200. Enjoy! -David

Wednesday: "The One That Got Away - Episode #6"

Good Afternoon Everybody,

I hope everybody liked yesterday's lighting tutorial [link]. I know it ran a little long, almost 30 minutes, but I wanted to give you the complete picture (no pun intended) of how versatile reflected light can be on your shoots. It really is a powerful lighting technique.

Canadian Imaging Hey gang, you won't believe it. I got a call yesterday from the Professional Photographers of Canada [link] about their CanadianImaging conference held in Banff next year [link]. For the last few years I've been receiving tons of requests from our Canadian photog friends to bring my programs northward.

Well, good news - we are wrapping the final details to make that happen. The dates are April 16-20.  Here is their website right here for all the details. My program info should be up on their site by next week. I'll keep you posted. I'm really excited to be visiting the Canadian friends of DPT.

"The One That Got Away - Episode #6"

I continue to get emails thanking me for running this series. Thank you as I enjoy writing it too. That said, I’ll keep it coming your way for the next several weeks. Today's post has to do with how the lighting could have been enhanced to really add some sizzle to the image.

Let's first take a look at the first image.

One Away 1

Here is what I like about this image:

1- It is nearly perfect in pose and composition. I like that the maker has the shoulders turned in one direction while her head is turned in the other.

2- The subject placement is right where it needs to be. The bride is positioned with her head in "nodal point #2.

3- Notice too how the lines of the steps in the distance lead  ones eye directly to the bride.

4- Exposure is nicely balanced between the background and the subject.

All well done. So what would I have done differently?  Hit the “Read More…” link below for the rest of the story.

Here is where I would make a few adjustments to the image.

1- Lighting is completely flat on the bride's face. I would say it was coming from an on camera flash. See how the on camera flash flattens the details so much. With so much going for this image, that would be the first place I would begin.

2- OK, what would I have done to improve the lighting? Off camera flash or a reflector could have done the trick. Be sure to review the last image in this post where I show exciting lighting on the bride.

3- This is a very fine point, but I think the bride's left hand could have been posed a bit more gracefully. My suggestion is to have the bride hold the veil with her thumb and middle finger which is what the photog did in this example. Only her hand looks like a “claw” and is unattractive. The final finesse is to have the bride flatten the hand a bit and extend the index finger slightly.

4- One final point, with the bouquet as far forward on the bride's dress, a nasty shadow would have been cast on the dress had off camera light been used. My suggestion is to be aware of where the shadows are going to fall, and reposition the bouquet accordingly pulling it back slightly.

OK, now let's look at our second image.

One Away 2

I know what you're thinking, "It sure looks like the first image to me." And you would be right in thinking that. These images were made during my Master Class this past spring. I was demonstrating how we use reflectors to create a key light or main light on the bride.

I had basically set up the photograph after which the students stepped in and tried to duplicate my image. The second shot is somewhat an improvement on the first in so far as we see a directional light on our bride. A little work in Lightroom could have enhanced it a bit more.

Now look at the third image. This is the one I made.

One Away 3 1- Notice how I refined the hand position of the bride's right hand.

2- Notice how the direction of light, the sun bounced off of a super silver reflector back into the bride's face, really enhanced the image from what we experienced in the first image.

3- Notice too, how the contrast in the third image is better controlled as compared to the second image. What did I do differently? I simply used my on camera flash as a fill light. I dialed the power output down about 2 stops, and set it to "high speed sync" to accommodate the faster shutter speed I was using.

4- A tweak or two in Lightroom to fine tune density and color finished the job.

As you can see from today's discussion, it's really the small things that make a big difference in your final result. And it's understanding how to make these small improvements to your photographs that differentiates you from the composition.

It's your choice to be part of the crowd, or be a leader of the pack.


Hey gang, that's it for me today. We are super busy again today and I've to get back to my real job. Oh, just a quick note - I'm announcing a brand new FREE webcast tomorrow so be sure to stop back for all the details.

I'll see everybody tomorrow for another addition of Business Day Thursday.

Adios Everybody, David

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

"Simply Beautiful"

0001-Simple Beauty3-0156_Ellis P10

"Simply Beautiful"

©David A. Ziser

I made this image during a family portrait session a few weeks ago. During our sessions, I photograph the entire family and then break the family into smaller groups. Those groups could be dad and the boys, mom and the girls, mom and dad, and each of the children individually. Of course, we would accommodate any additional requests from the parents as well.

That's pretty much what I did at this session too. I blogged the image of the four sisters last week link. After photographing the four sisters, I then photographed each young lady individually trying to capture something special and unique about each one of them.

The young girl in this image is the oldest of the four sisters and at that stage in her life where she reflects her own self confidence and independence. I think it shows in this image.

This is the simplest of all portraits to take. She is positioned in the middle of the frame looking right back into the camera. No rule of thirds in this composition, no special placement - just in the center of the frame with her looking right back at me.

That is really only the beginning of the portrait. The long lens and wide aperture soften the background bringing the viewers attention directly onto our subject. The soft light on her face coming from camera left – my assistant holding the Quantum through Zumbrella -further completes the easy look I wanted in this image.

Think of this portrait as "softness all around" - soft lighting, soft background, and soft expression. All these elements came together in a wonderfully simple and beautiful portrait of this young lady.

Camera specs: Canon 7D fitted with 70-200mm IS lens at 150mm, F 4.0 @ 1/200 second, ISO 100. Enjoy! - David

Technique Tuesday: Time To Light Up Your Life; Looking For Volunteers; and My New SUNSPOTZ Introduced Today!

Good Afternoon Everybody,

Today's post is going up a little later than usual today because of yesterday's late afternoon post. Sometimes things just happen that way. We wrapped our staff meetings yesterday and dug into some client work that has to be completed before we hit the road again next Monday.

KPPA Webcast CD Label Yesterday I mentioned that our KPPA Webcast [link] was available on a 4 hour DVD.  There was some confusion about it being audio only – ABSOLUTELY NOT!  It is the complete visual Keynote/PowerPoint presentation led by each presenter.  It’s like you are in the same room with them as you view it on your computer. Way cool, and way full of information – all info right here.

I think I've got a pretty cool lighting tutorial for you today. It's kind of special, too. I'm going to give you a peek at a very small section of my CBTL2010 [link] tour presentation on lighting. And, I'm also announcing my newly designed SUNSPOTZ [link] outdoor reflector. Let’s get right to it…

It’s Time To Light Up Your Life

1024x768 Light Up My Life The technique I'm discussing today is something we've just begun to use routinely around my studio.  This tutorial shows one of the easiest way to control light outdoors. I have been a HUGE fan of off camera flash outdoors as you know from all the posts I do on the subject

The problem with using off camera flash outdoors on a bright day is the fact that it's difficult for me to shoot at wider apertures when I need to. Here is the problem. I am limited to the camera’s top shutter speed of say 1/400 second even when “cheating the sync”. But at ISO 100-200 that still means I need to use an aperture of somewhere around F 8 or F 11 to obtain the proper exposure for the shot.

That smaller aperture brings the background into too sharp of focus for me in a most of the instances. So, what's the solution? The solution, is reflectors.

Hit the PLAY button below to see how we are using my super silver/black reflectors to transform our outdoor portrait and wedding images.

Announcing My New SUNSPOTZ Reflector!

Sun Spotz 400px Pretty cool technique, wasn't it? It's really a nice way to obtain some great directional light on your subject. You saw me introducing my new SUNSPOTZ [link] in the video. I've been working with my good friends at Westcott on this product for months.

My specifications were that one side needed to be black and the other side needed to a super silver reflecting surface. The first few prototypes just did not fill the bill. The silver side just was not reflective enough - back to the drawing board over and over. Finally we got it right - black on one side and really, really super silver on the other side. They finally arrived last week!

So today I'm announcing that we are making my SUNSPOTZ available at the Digital Resource Center at the special introductory price of only $45 [link]. That's the best price you'll find anywhere on the internet too for a 42 inch reflector built to my specifications. We're even throwing in a copy of today's tutorial so you can have it on hand for ready reference. Bundle the SUNSPOTZ with a few other educational items and the price is even better. Check them out right here and have fun.


Hey gang, that's it for me today. It's back to Lightroom 3 for me and some more wedding editing.

Help Wanted Oh, I almost forgot. LaDawn is again looking for volunteers to help out with room set up and registrations, etc. for our CBTL2010 tour  Everyone who has helped so far has said it was great fun.  Remember if you can help out - goodies abound and I’ll even pick up the refreshments at the hotel lounge afterwards.

She is looking for help in Washington, Philadelphia, Newark, and Ontario, CA.  Drop her a note at if you would like to be part of the fun.

How about I see everybody same time, same place for another installment of "The One That Got Away".

See ya' then, - David

Monday, September 27, 2010

"Kissed Bt The Light"

Kissed By The Light-1386_DZ-Walker W10

"Kissed Bt The Light"
©David A. Ziser

Here is another image I made at my wedding a week or two ago.  I just couldn’t resist.  The location, the architecture, colors, lights – all were calling out for a dramatic silhouette.

Although the ceremony had just taken place, the guests had stepped outside for the cocktail hour and we had the place pretty much to ourselves – other than the catering staff hustling around to set the room for the reception.

I did several group photographs that the bride and groom had requested and had just a short amount of time to pull off this image before everyone returned for the start of the party.

My assistant was about 12 feet behind the couple with my Quantum on 1/4 power directed right back at the bride and groom. The shutter speed was just slowed enough to pick up the background candles and ceiling lighting.  It’s an easy shot to pull off quickly and it’s always a favorite with the couple.

Camera specs: Canon 7D fitted with Canon 10-22mm lens at 10mm, F 5.6 @ 1/10 second, ISO 800.  Enjoy!  -David

Quick Hit Monday: Great Web-cast; Checking In With Photokina; Lighting Tutorials; Shooting Wirelessly To Your iPad; Photoshop Goodies; and More

Good Morning Everybody,

I hope everyone had a great weekend.  LaDawn and I got to just hang on our deck and enjoy a cool breeze, an adult beverage or two, and a beautiful sunset - ahhhh!

You know you are really “killing time” when you decide to clean out the kitchen pantry too - like on your first day off in several weeks, you decide to clean out a pantry!!??  Hey, it’s been a while, especially when the Campbell's soup can says “Used before 10/1997” ;~) Let’s just say that once I started checking dates, we just cleared it all out.

Hey gang, I’ve got a few juicy tidbits for you today so let’s get right to it.  Here we go...

KPPA Web-cast Was Great!

Antennas  Flipped - fotolia_3603026When our KPPA web-cast ended yesterday, I was on “Cloud 9”. Four hours  later it turned out the be the best and most diversified seminars I have ever attended. It was jammed packed with tons of great information on lighting, astoundingly beautiful images, and great marketing ideas from all three presenters.

- Matt showed how to take wedding photographs that not only sell, but also drive business to your door.

- Nancy showed how she is exciting her clients with the freshest high school senior photography in Oklahoma City and how she maintains a $1,500 average on all of her orders!

- Drake shared his beautiful and simple lighting techniques and how he booked over 1,000 sittings in one day!!! All the attendees were locked to their seats till the end.  It was just a wonderful educational experience!

We also gave away nearly $2,000 in door prizes! For those who didn’t attend you’re wondering, “Man, sounds like I missed something really special.” The answer would be a resounding, “YES, you did!”

Now the good news – I recorded the entire 4-hour webcast so that we could make it available for all those good folks that couldn’t make it to the presentation.  I just finished encoding the webcast into a WMV file for Windows users and a MP4 file for Mac users.  The MP4 file is sized to play conveniently on your iPad too.

KPPA Webcast logo w-Disk

For only $29 you will get both files on a DVD – 4 hours worth and hands down one of the best photography seminars you’ve ever watched!.  Folks, if you are serious about your photography, your lighting, and your business success, this DVD is a must have educational resource.  You can get all the Webcast DVD info and purchase it right here – don’t miss this opportunity!

Here are a few remarks from those attending:

Crowd LR - Fotolia_16661679_Subscription_XXL“As a photographer for many years, a 1963 graduate of the Brooks Institute of Photography and a Past President of the Tennessee Professional Photographers Association, I felt this was one of the most innovated seminars that I have ever attended.”  Lee W.

“I just finished listening to the was great!!!! Enjoyed it tremendously and look forward to receiving the DVD of today's programs.  It was great listening to the different topics.” Rebecca S.

“Really enjoyed the 3 presentations, they were tremendous, lots of information and good tips!” Harold B.

“FABULOUS job today!!!!!” Laura R.

“Loved today's webinar.  Lots of great information.” Geneva B.

I’ve mentioned our Kentucky Professional Photographers web-cast [link] here at DPT for the last several weeks. As VP of our state association, I asked a big favor from three of the best photogs in the country - Matt McGraw from Wilmington, North Carolina, Nancy Emmerich from Oklahoma City, Oklahoma and Drake Busath from Salt Lake City, Utah. 

They all agreed to participate for the 4 hour web-cast and, I believe they hit it out of the park!  We had folks attending from around the country and around the world, even as fall away as Australia truly making it a worldwide web-cast. If you missed it you can pick up the recorded version right here - tons of information for a very small price!

Photokina 2010 Wraps

I was lucky enough to not just attend Photokina [link] several years ago, I was also one of the named presenters for Hasselblad Cameras - what a thrill and what a treat!  I stayed at the Meridien Dom Hotel right next to the historic DOM Cathedral - it was an amazing visit!

Photokina The exhibition is held in Cologne, Germany and is the biggest, best super exhibition of all things photographic in the world.  2008’s exhibition saw 1,523 exhibitors and over 169,000 people from over 161 nations attended! They expect 2010 to be even bigger!

Lots of blogs are reporting on the show.  My favorite Photokina news sources are 1001 Noisy Cameras [link], Rob Galbraith [link], and the ImagingInsider [link].  Check out the links here to see what’s new.

A Little On Lighting - 13 Tutorials

DYI Photo I have to say, with the web-cast going on and a little added relaxing happening this weekend, I thought I was going to come up dry for today’s post. But after scurrying around the net for a bit, I turned up a few gems for you. had a great collection of videos on lighting right here.  It a nice varied collection - worth the peak

Shooting Wireless Into The iPad

iPad shooting Here is another gem of a find from Rob Galbraith’s site.  I’ve heard about ShutterSnitch [link] for a while. It’s the $7.99 iPad app that let’s you shoot directly into to your iPad when using the Eye-Fi cards. 

This app can accept pictures from any camera transmitter that's capable of an FTP transfer, which includes all past and current Canon and Nikon digital SLR transmitter accessories. This article right here finally goes into plenty of detail into exactly how to set up the iPad for the best result. 

It’s the absolute best post I’ve seen on the topic. If you love your iPad and want to have some fun, this is the way to go.

A Few Photoshop Goodies

A “Blow Your Mind” P/S Tutorial

Every now and then I find a Photoshop tutorial that just blows me away with what I see in the final result. 

Photoshop Tut

This is one of those tutorials.  This is something you will never use in your life, unless you are a graphic designer, but it is still fun to see how the finished image comes together.  Here is the link to the tutorial right here.

And Now Something For The Rest Of Us – Gimme Some Action(s)

Photoshop action, that is. Hey, a lot of us are Photoshop action junkies – me included.  Every now and then I stumble upon a site or two that points to some pretty cool FREE actions.

100 Actions FREE

I’m pointing you towards one of those sites right here. Have fun and dig in.  There are approximately 100 actions to check out.  No need to say thank you ;~)


Hey gang, that’s it for me today.  It’s the first day back in the studio and you know what that means – it’s catch up day.

How about I see everybody back here tomorrow for a new episode of Technique Tuesday.  I promise, you’re going to like it.

See ya’ then,  David

Friday, September 24, 2010

"Happy Smiles"

0001-Four Princesses-0101_Ellis P10

"Happy Smiles"
©David A. Ziser

I captured this image during a family portrait session a few weeks ago. The mom and dad of these four smiling faces were clients of mine years ago – I photographed mom and dad’s wedding.

Every few years or so they give me a call to photograph their 4 beautiful children.  It’s always around Christmas time and I always end up doing the portrait in their home.  I’ve been encouraging mom to do something in the fall BEFORE the holidays roll around so we could get some great casual outdoor images.

This was the lucky year.  We all headed to the park and I had the honor of photographing this wonderful family and have some great images of the family all together, the kids, and mom and dad. I’ve watched these kids grow up over these many years.  This portrait of these four young ladies is one of my favorites.  Each face reflects the different personality of each child.  I think that individuality really comes through in this portrait.

Lighting was from my Quantum at full power through my Zumbrella camera right at about 10 feet away. The accent light was from the sunlight peeking in from the clouds above and behind the four girls.

Camera specs: Canon 7D fitted with 70-200mm IS lens at 115mm, F 4.0 @ 1/160 second, ISO 200.  Enjoy!  -David

It's A Lonely Job: Shooting A Wedding By Yourself - Part 3

Good Morning Everybody,

We had one of our most fun and fired up crowds too – everybody seemed to have a good time all night long.  We even had some of the hotel guests from the lobby poke their heads in to see what all the excitement and cheering was about.

Ziser Seminar-1003 We wrapped leg 3 of out CBTL tour [link] last night in beautiful St. Louis, MO.  That’s me giving the audience a tour of our CBTL handbook and telling them about the 9 hour DVD everyone gets when attending.

I want to thank everyone who came up during the breaks and told me how much they have enjoyed my Captured By The Light book too.

Ziser Seminar-1006 I signed one book that looked like it had been read about 1000 times. I was told that it goes to every wedding with her and is used constantly as her lighting reference.  Again, thanks to everyone for the very nice remarks.

Ziser Seminar-1012 And, you guessed it, everybody loves our “$6000 Door Prize” time. Here is a shot of Don Hawkins winning the $359 LowePro Pro Roller X300 camera bag.  He was thrilled!  My thanks to Gary Helfrich for capturing a few of the moments with photos last night. THANKS Gary.

Today we head back home and have a week off before heading to Nashville on October 4.  We’ll get back to Cincy about 4 this afternoon, have a meeting with staff, and then just chill for the rest of the evening – we are looking forward to it!

KPPA Webcast Logo Tomorrow I’m rehearing our Sunday Worldwide Webcast [link] with our Sunday presenters.  Folks, it would be well worth it if you can make it to this webcast.  The three presenters are personal friends of mine and are tops in their respective fields of photographic expertise. For $19.95 it the educational steal of a deal! Once again, you can register right here.

It's A Lonely Job: Shooting A Wedding By Yourself - Part 3

For the last two Fridays I’ve been running this series about how to shoot a wedding by yourself – that is all alone, without the help of an assistant.  I tried to point out the challenges, compromises, and pitfalls of that experience.

Sure, it can be done and lots of photographers do it every weekend.  But remember, I want “exciting lighting” to be a large part of the images I produce for my clients.  As I’ve said so many times before, “It’s the difference that makes the difference.”  And nice light, not just correct exposure makes for a great image and separates you from 90% of wedding photographers.

In today’s post I want to cover the wedding reception coverage.  Although this part of the day is usually the most faced paced, it is still probably the easiest part of the day to shoot by yourself.  When I studied with legendary Monte Zucker years ago, I remember him showing the class how he captured his images which included great lighting on all his candids – yes, he photographed his events by himself.

Roller Light Stand Monte’s secret – a portable, battery operated strobe on a light stand fired remotely with radio controllers which he would roll into position for the dance photos, cake cutting images, and reception candids.  His images looked beautiful, full of the rich colors, detail, depth, and dimension that the second light brings to any wedding coverage.

I think the rolling light stand could be a solution for today’s photographer.  I found one at B&H [link] that should fill the bill.  The challenge is to keep the wedding guests from tripping over it.  I don’t think that’s going to be a big problem, but it is something to be aware of.

Cake cutting What I like about the rolling light stand is the fact that you can position it right where you want it to give you your best light for all the wedding reception events, for example; celebration toasting, cake cutting, dancing, bouquet and garter toss.  I promise you, you will get much better light in the subjects that just shooting with Uncle Harry ’s on-camera “blast flash” system.

In my first post in this series [link], Bill Gommel, one of our DPT readers, also suggested a Cheetah stand [link] which opens and closes automatically when you pick it up or set it down. I think this could also prove to be a good solution.

Reception Dancing In addition to the portable stand, I would add a “room light” to the mix.  I’ve discussed the use of a “room light” many times previously here at DPT [link].  The room light is a great way to really enhance your candid images.  It just splashes light around the room again giving a feeling of depth and dimension to the reception coverage.  I’ve discussed the use of the room light extensively in my previous post right here.

An alternative to the rolling or portable light stand would be to use two room lights and not move anything.  A lot of the big sports arenas are set up with the lights in stationary locations allowing the sports photographer the flexibility to move anywhere necessary to capture the winning shot.

This technique works best in larger reception venues where you can tuck the lights away from the wedding guests.  As I’m writing this, I’m thinking a beautiful location in Cincinnati in which we work many times.  The ballroom has a second story balcony where I can easily place the lights out of obvious view and without infringing upon the guest or the decor of the room.

CBTL Book cover With regard to where to place the lights for the variety of shots that need to be taken at a wedding reception, I am not going into that detail today in his post.  You can find that information elsewhere on my DPT blog.  If you want the definitive “road map” to reception coverage, I cover it thoroughly in my Captured By The Light Book [link] in Chapter 10.

Anyway, I hope these ideas help you get through your next lonely wedding shoot. Sure, it takes a bit more effort to pull it off but the results are worth it.


Hey everybody, that’s it for me today.  We head back home today and have next week off.  Well, not really off – we are playing “catch up” with a few projects at the studio.  It will still be a break to catch our breath, eat and sleep in our own home before we head out again on October 4th to Nashville and the east coast tour locations.

KPPA Webcast Logo Hey, don’t forget, I’m hosting our BIG webcast on Sunday, September 26, 2010 at 2:00 p.m. EDT [link].  We have three terrific speakers lined up from around the country speaking on Weddings, High School Seniors, and Family Portraits. You can register and get all the program info right here.  Plan to stop by, it’s going to be a good time! Oh, did I say Door Prizes were going to be given away – yep, about $1700 worth.

See ya’ Sunday or next week for sure. 

Have a great weekend everybody!


Thursday, September 23, 2010

"Fault Lines"

0001-Fault Lines-IMG_6246

"Fault Lines"
©David A. Ziser

This image was made a few weeks ago during our day trip to Joshua Tree National Park. It was taken from Keys View.  Keys View offers a fantastic view of the Santa Rosa Mountains and San Jacinto Mountains, and the actual San Andreas fault – very cool! It is probably one of my favorite images from the trip. I always love to see the repeat of the mountain ridges into the distant horizon.

In this image those mountain ridges are further enhanced by the subtle tonalities of the fog surrounding them. Actually the fog is LA smog. I loved working these tonalities in Lightroom and tried to bring out all ranges of light and dark tones.

Converting the image to B&W let me work the shades of gray even further allowing me to really expand the gamut of gray hues to their fullest.

Camera specs: Canon 7D fitted with 18-200mm IS lens at 70mm, F5.0 @ 1/1600 second, ISO 200. Enjoy! -David

Business Day Thursday: Is It Time To Do Something Really Special For A Client?

Good Morning Everybody,

Wow!  What a crowd and a warm welcome we had in Kansas City last night! Nearly 250 excited photographers showed up for my program and they were fired up.  I’m always amazed by the distance some of our attendees travel to come to my CBTL2010 program. 

That was true again last night with a few folks traveling over 8 hours to come to the program.  When I hear the effort they made to attend, I am both honored and humbled.  My heartfelt THANKS to all that made the effort to be part of last nights seminar, especially those that came from great distances to be there.

We had another first last night.  While talking to a few of the seminar attendees before the show started I found Austin Piper was attending the presentation with his parents.

Austin Piper and Greg Walker

That’s Austin on the left. They were telling me how he follows the DPT blog and has watched my Kelby training videos.  Austin is 16 years old – about the same age I was when I shot my first wedding.  Austin also won the NIK Viveza software package – he was thrilled.  Way to go Austin!

At break I was also introduced to another young fan, Greg Walker on the right. Greg just celebrated his 18th birthday last week and loves photography. 

To see these two you guys excited about photography at about the same age I was turned on to photography was a little bit of déjà vu. Greg and Austin, the best of luck to the both of you.  Remember, always aim for the stars, never give up on your dream, and grab your energy from your passion for photography.

Is It Time To Do Something Really Special For A Client?

Something SpecialWe have an order going through the studio right now - it's a Bar Mitzvah order. It happens to be the fourth Mitzvah I have photographed for the family. As a matter of fact, I photographed the parent’s wedding about 25 years ago!

Thinking about that recently, I began reflecting back on my relationship with my client over these many years. I remember photographing their wedding many years ago - it was THE largest wedding to take place in the city of Cincinnati for that year! The clients loved the results and placed a substantial order.

I had only been in business for a few years and was building a reputation as the "go to photographer" for the big events in town. Photographing this wedding cemented that thinking in the Cincinnati, Ohio area.

My client and her family members, over the next 24 months, sent several referrals to my studio. Nearly all the referrals converted to bookings. I can still remember photographing a few of the referred weddings.

The father of my bride would many times be a guest at these events. As I was photographing the table in which he was sitting, he would point at me and exclaim to his table mates, "See that camera he's using? I bought that camera for him." He was referring of course to all the referrals he and his daughter has been sending my way for so many months. In reality his remark was half true.

Hit the “Read More…” link below for the rest of the story.

Anyway, about that same time, I learned that the bride was expecting a baby. I discovered when her baby was going to be born and marked my calendar. A few weeks after the baby was born I contacted my client and offered her a complimentary portrait shoot of her new baby. She was happy to accept my invitation.

We scheduled the session and I subsequently photographed her new baby, Amanda. I took several photographs of Amanda, along with mom, and even with Amanda's grandmother who was also present for the shoot. This was back in the film days but I still took a few hundred photographs.

A few weeks later my client made an appointment to come by my studio and review the images. At the end of our meeting she had selected  50 images which we planned to bind into a beautiful leather album. She also selected several images for family and friends. It was going to be quite the order to the tune of a few thousand dollars.

Clients - LRHere is the point of today's post. I wanted to acknowledge the fact that she had referred tens of thousands of dollars worth of business to me over the preceding months. I decided to GIVE all the photographs to her at no charge! I wanted this gesture to be my authentic "Thank You" to her for all the business she sent my way. Although she initially objected, after I explained why I wanted her to have the images with my compliments, she graciously accepted. She continued to refer clients and eventually I photographed all four of her children's Bar/Bat Mitzvahs 25 years later. Talk about customer loyalty.

So how often should you make that kind of gesture to a client?  That was quite a large gesture 25 years ago and I certainly have no regrets having made it. I have continued to make similar gestures to my clients over the years.

Maybe a better way to describe a client that refers so much business is to name them as a patron - someone who goes out of their way to refer business to your studio. Yes, I think saying "thank you" in such a generous way is both an appropriate response and it's good for business too.

You may have some stand out clients like this right now that are making referrals to your studio. Offer them something special that acknowledges their support of your studio. That "something" may be as simple as a $50 gift card up to a complimentary family portrait, or even an album. It's all up to you and is based upon the level of patronage they show you.

One of my favorite wedding clients is having a baby in about 5 months. We've offered her a newborn baby session at no charge because she is such a great client. These gestures are just good for business. It's the size of the gesture that makes you stand out from what the competition might be doing.

Anyway, it's something to think about. How do you want to respond to your special clients?  Remember, you build your business not only by building sales but build a strong client loyalty too. How do you want to make that happen?


Hey gang, that's it for me today. We continue to head east to St. Louis for this evening's CBTL program. Be sure to come up and say HI if you are planning to stop by this evening.

Also, Don't forget to stop by DPT for my final installment of "It's A Lonely Job: Shooting A Wedding Alone - Part 3".

Everybody have a great rest of the day.

See ya' soon, David

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

"Looking Up"

Looking Up1082_DZ-Walker W10

"Looking Up"
©David A. Ziser

When we photograph weddings, we can find ourselves in any type of location – outside in a park, in a simple church, or a magnificent cathedral. That was the case I found myself in a few days ago.  The wedding was to take place at the Verdin Bell Museum in Cincinnati, Ohio.  One very interesting thing to note about the museum was that it was previously St. Paul’s Catholic Church for 131 previous years before it became a museum [link].

The interior was absolutely beautiful.  I have a habit of always looking up in any church I visit. Maybe it goes back to my fascination with Michelangelo and the Sistine Chapel [link], but I always like viewing the ceiling in old churches – many are magnificent works of art and simply quite beautiful.  Just look at the rich vibrant colors, the arabesque converging lines, and the architecture – magnificent!  And, that by the way, is why we need to photograph them.

Not many people take the time to look up so if you do and photograph what you see, you capture, many times, the exciting lost beauty of some awesome venues.

Camera specs: Canon 5D Mark II fitted with Sigma 12-24mm lens at 12mm, F5.6 @ 1/50 second, ISO 6400. Enjoy!  -David

The One That Got Away: Episode 5

Good Morning Everybody,

We headed out yesterday from Denver and made the nine hour drive into Kansas City arriving about 9:00 p.m. last night.  I’ll tell ya’, 9 hours driving is a pretty good push even for those of us that enjoy the driving.

Why do we do it?  Because it’s a great way to see the country – parts of the country most people never get to see. I doubt many folks make the 600 mile I-70 trek from Denver to Kansas City.  Even as we were relaxing after Monday’s program, one of our volunteers commented that there wasn’t much to see for most of those 600 miles.

Hay Bales For the most part he was right.  But just seeing the vast expanse of “nothingness” for miles and miles was an amazing site to me.  The fact that you don’t see hardly any evidence of civilization for that long stretch of Colorado sure makes you check your gas tank;~)

Wind TurbinesBut, in spite of some of those long stretches, our county’s beauty presented itself many times along our trip.  Maybe it was the round bales of hay, the wind turbines, or the beautifully varied clouds we witnessed as we crossed the country that were wonderful reflections of the diversity and beauty of our great country.


For most of the journey one travels without the radio, too.  Even the stations’ radio signals are just too weak to be heard along much of that long stretch of road.  Henry AaronWe unusually resort to listening to a book on tape that we pick up from a Cracker Barrel restaurant along the way.  We are currently listening to the biography of baseball legend, Henry Aaron [link].  This audio book’s fast paced “read” almost makes you not want to stop the car at the end of your travels. We have two more days of driving before we arrive home on Friday and we can’t wait to hear the rest of the story.

The ultimate drive for me may be coming up right after Thanksgiving.  We always head to Cabo San Lucas, Mexico with our friends, Kent and Sara Smith for a week or so just to chill before the holidays.  This year Kent wants to drive his newly acquired 4x4 Jeep all the way from Columbus, Ohio to the tip of the Baja – about 3000 miles – and has asked me to ride/drive along with him. Hey, it sounds like a great adventure – I’ll keep you posted when we hit the trail.

Now, on with today’s post…..

The One That Got Away: Episode 5

I’ve been doing this series for the last few weeks and a lot of people really seem to be enjoying it.  Many individuals attending our CBTL 2010 come up to me and comment on how much they enjoy it.  Since it seems to be a favorite, I keep running the series for the next few weeks.

I think what photographers like about it is the fact that it touches on the finer points of what can make your photograph, or more importantly, the people in your photographs, really look their best.

Last week I discussed an image of a groom [link].  This week, let’s review an image of a beautiful bride.  But, more importantly, let’s discuss how we can flatter her even more in the image.

Hit the “Read more…” link link below to see the image and hear the rest of the story.

First, take a moment or two and look at our image today.

Episode 5 Hunched Bride - 2BA23295We have an image of a beautiful bride against a simple background and the start of a very nice bridal portrait.

First, let’s look at what was done right.

1 – The first thing I notice is a very nice expression on our subject.  That is half the job of making our subjects look good.  The easy expression is a good start on his portrait.

2 – The lighting is dead-on.  It’s coming in from camera right and creating a beautiful loop lighting pattern on our bride.  All our DPT readers know I’m a big fan of loop lighting – I feel the most flattering lighting we can use on our subjects.

3- The lighting ratio is quite good too.  I prefer a 3:1 lighting ratio on my subjects.  That means that the light falling on the bride’s face is 3x brighter (or 1 1/2 stops) than the light on the shadow side of her face.

4- I also like the diagonal line of the railing running through the image. The bride has a flattering C-curve to her positioning that I find as another positive aspect to this image.

OK, all good points, but how could the maker of this image make it even better?

Here are the areas I would concentrate on to take this image to the next level.

1 – The biggest thing I want to address in this image is the “slouchy” posture. See how the bride seems to be leaning over the railing.  The easiest way to fix this was to simply ask the bride to stand taller.  That would have fixed most of the “slouchiness”.

She may have to bring her hips closer to the railing but that’s OK – she just needs to be standing taller so she doesn’t look like she is falling out of her dress.

Episode 5 Hunched Bride - 2BA232952 – A minor point, but when showing the subject’s hand as we see here, always ask them to bring their fingers together.  It’s just more flattering in the shot.

3 – Hair can sometimes be an issue.  See the strands on hair on the bride’s right shoulder.  I may have brought a lot more of her hair over that shoulder to balance out her hair on her left side.  Clearing out the hair completely on both sides is also an option.

4- Now the veil – see how you can see so much of it to the right of the bride.  I always try to create a balance of the veil on both sides of the bride so that it frames her up nicely in the portrait.

An easy solution would have been to pull more of the veil over to the bride’s right side and maybe just pinch a bit of the veil under her right elbow to hold the veil in place.  That would have brought a lot more of the veil into view.  In this case, it would have been illuminated by the flash too, instead of shadowed as we see here, and the photographer would have created a nice framing element for the bride’s face.

5- How about the “horizontal” option? The bride is in no particular quadrant although she seems to be closer to the 2nd quadrant.  That may have worked, but I would have explored the horizontal crop.  That way we could have made the railing a more important element in the composition.

So in you mind’s eye, image this.  The image is cropped horizontally with the bride positioned in the second quadrant – top left.  She is standing tall in the image giving almost a regal look to her posture.

The railing leads the viewer’s eye in from the bottom right directly to the bride.  She is illuminated with a beautiful loop light pattern and the portrait would have been compositionally more dramatic and thus pleasing.

That’s pretty much the changes I would make to this image.  I think what we see is close but with just a few more tweaks, we could have a dynamite portrait of our bride.


Hey everybody, that’s it for me today.  Once again, we’ve got quite the crowd in Kansas City  for tonight’s presentation – well over 200 strong.  I figure they heard about all the door prizes we are giving away and want to be part of the action ;~)

How about I see everyone same time, same place tomorrow for another episode of Business Day Thursday.

Hey, and if you are at the program this evening, please come on by and say HI.

See ya’ then, -David

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

"Looking For Love In All The Wrong Places"

Walker0764_DZ-Walker W10

"Looking For Love In All The Wrong Places"
©David A. Ziser

Here is another image from Saturday’s wedding.  The bride was hoping to shoot at Fountain Square, one of our most popular venues for Cincinnati city images.  Cincinnati was hosting their Oktoberfest celebration last weekend and due to the large crowds put Fountain Square off limits for photography.

I had mentioned an even more urban location in which we had photographed a few weeks earlier and she jumped at the idea. We were about 5 hours into the day’s pre-wedding photography session and now were headed to an alley at 8th and Plum in downtown Cincy. 

We only had a few minutes to work because we were now beginning to run out of time and needed to be heading to the wedding venue within a few minutes.  I had an idea in mind, and I need to say, this was NOT a typical “David Ziser” wedding portrait, but I was looking to try something new and different.

This is one of the images from our “urban” shoot.  With the bride sitting on the curb and the groom straddling her, and both of them with somber expressions, it reminded me maybe of Bonnie and Clyde on their wedding day ;~)  Anyway, it was fun and the couple loved it.

Lighting (150 w.s. or full power) from Quantum placed camera left and shooting through my Zumbrella gave me the directional light I wanted.  Ever so slight tweaks in LR3 finished the image.

Camera specs: Canon 7D fitted with Sigma 8-16mm Lens at 8mm, F 5.6 @ 1/320 second, ISO 200.  Enjoy!  -David

Technique Tuesday: Big Light and Long Lenses For Beautiful Portraits

Good Morning Everybody,

The third leg of our CBTL tour got off to a great start in Denver last night. The crowd was fired up and the program went off without a hitch.  I even almost finished on time ;~)

0027Grant Oakes, a buddy of ours from Denver stopped by to help in the back of the room.  Grant, who is not only a very talented photographer, also operates, one of the easiest “design it yourself” websites on the market [link]. 


Grant was gracious enough to shoot a few photos of the show. We had a great crowd, lots of excitement, and everybody loved “Door Prize Time”.

Big Light and Long lenses For Beautiful Portraits

Hey gang, ready for another Technique Tuesday? I’ve got a good one for you today. It’s about beautiful portraits, lighting, and composition.  My 1-light lighting techniques I’m showing today are super simple to put into use. This video was produced in our Denver hotel room so please excuse the slight compromise in our normally outstanding production value ;~)

There are many times when your shooting location may not give you the best options for capturing beautiful portraits. That was not the case at Saturday's wedding. We were working in a beautiful, well appointed home that offered many fabulous locations to shoot.

I chose the large bay window as my background for many of the family shots. It offered a clear, unobstructed view of the beautiful exterior foliage which I rendered much lighter with my lighting and exposure combinations.

My main challenge was to keep the reflection of my shoot throw Zumbrella from showing up on any of the window’s very reflective surfaces. Once we had that under control, the rest was easy.

Yesterday I mentioned that I was shooting with my 7 foot monster umbrella -  reflections could have been a major problem. I wanted to take the chance because of the very soft quality of light the large umbrella afforded the shoot.

The next challenge was to frame up the subjects against the bay window so that it made for the best background for the photographs. That meant the use of a much longer focal length lens.

Everything came together very well for the pre-wedding photography session. Why not hit the PLAY button below and enjoy the show and see how I pulled it off.


Hey everybody, That's it for me today. The bags are packed and we head to Kansas City in a short while. It's about a 8-9 hour drive, but like I’ve said, it's a wonderful way to see the country.

Have a great one and I'll see you tomorrow for another episode of "The One That Got Away".

Kansas City Barbecue - here we come ;~)


Monday, September 20, 2010

"What A Beautiful Day"

Beautiful Day0093_DZ-Walker W10

"What A Beautiful Day"
©David A. Ziser

Here is one of the images I made during Saturday's wedding. The large bay window served as a perfect background for this bridal image. I went strictly with the available light to capture this image.  Don’t forget  to frame your subject within the smaller window frame too – it just looks better.

Exposing for the bride necessitated me to over-expose the outdoors. I knew that would push the exterior tonalities to the higher key tones you see here. This is always a nice lighting technique for window light wedding photography and results in a beautiful portrait of the bride.

Camera specs: Canon 7D fitted with Sigma 8-16mm lens at 8mm, F5.6 @ 1/100 second, ISO 1250. Enjoy! -David